As I expected, my last week’s column provoked animated reactions from readers. Enjoy this sample:
Thank you for saying it the way it is. I cannot understand why any Northerner, or Muslim for that matter, would be calling for amnesty for a sect that is terrorising the region and portraying Islam as a primitive faith. Our so-called northern elders are plain opportunists and lacking in strategic vision, which explains our backwardness. Thank God we have people like you. More voices like yours will show the way. Mun gode.
Col Abubakar Dangiwa Umar (rtd)
Thanks for the great article in the Weekly Trust of the 13th. You indeed confirmed my suspicion that all the amnesty issue as being canvassed by the so-called Northern elders was only a grand ploy to blackmail President Jonathan into parting with stupendous sums of money for them to steal. May Allah save Nigeria from its thieving leaders.
Thank you for the good write-up on the above named hired armed killers who are killing Muslims and non-Muslims in northern Nigeria. Personally, I am not in support of granting amnesty to this group of mass murderers. I want the Federal Government’s security forces to crush them at all costs. But the security forces are not helping matters because whenever there is any bomb explosion, most of the times, security men vent their anger on innocent civilians. There must to be collaboration between the security forces and the people they are protecting to help them in defeating these evil forces of Satan called Boko haram. Then there is the need for our security forces equip themselves with modern surveillance systems and great human intelligence gathering to track them before they cause any havoc in the society. It will take many years before the economic, social, educational and political backwardness caused by BH in northern region is reversed. We hope this is not the agenda by some forces and their collaborators to tear the country before 2015.
Babagoro Umar Faruk (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I am one of those that admire your contributions in the Trust titles. With regards to your article on Boko Haram, you forget in a hurry the genesis of the group. Neither Boko Haram nor the JTF have any justification to take an innocent life. To my understanding, we need a leader that is nationalist, committed and corrupt-free and not a regional champion.
Yunusa Lawal (email@example.com)
To me, your argument on amnesty for BH is not robust enough. It seems you didn’t remember that there are various criminal activities that the press reports as Boko Haram activities. Any criminal activity, including killings in the north, is attributed to BH while similar activities in the south are reported as normal criminal activities. Remember also that despite arrests made of BH members, none has been conclusively prosecutedlike Henry Okah in South Africa. Note also that some non-Muslims have been arrested attempting to burn churches and nothing has been done to them, yet people like you still hold the belief that all the crimes are committed by BH in order to Islamise Nigeria. Methinks that what northern elders are asking for is that if the real BH can surrender, the criminal ones could be exposed and dealt with, which might be beyond GEJ because he is too weak a leader.
Bello Kamal (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Because you are living in faraway USA, that's why you are not advocating for amnesty for Boko Haram. Wallahi tallahi, if you had been living in northern Nigeria, you would be the first person to back the amnesty. This time I’m totally against your idea. If you are safe over there what about your people? Even Ndigbo and northern Christians like Bishop Kukah have called for amnesty for Boko Haram, not because they deserve it, but because most of the victims of Boko Haram are innocent people and because the JTF has killed more people than Boko Haram. Most people in northern Nigeria would agree with your idea provided JTF is withdrawn. I don’t support Boko Haram and I’m totally against their ideology, but we 100% prefer to live with Boko Haram terrorism than JTF’s extra judicial killings. That’s why people are calling for amnesty for Boko Haram, because no Boko Haram presence = no JTF death machine. People are more afraid of JTF than they are afraid of Boko Haram.
Aminu Abdulkadir (email@example.com)
The misapplication and misinterpretation of the word "amnesty" contributed to the ongoing controversy. Both those supporting and those opposing amnesty to the insurgents view the matter from different perspectives and neither are willing to listen to each other. In terms of the social statuses of the victims, the poor far outnumber the elites. As you rightly observed, there are many well-meaning people whose advocacy is borne out of the persistent violence and the apparent inability of security agencies to contain it. To these people, "amnesty" means a process of reconciliation whereby violence will stop, and assurance given for stoppage of persecution and intimidation so that peace prevails. This is viewed as essential and necessary condition for dialogue which would lead to negotiation and ultimately a resolution of the crisis. The existence of other groupings with evil intentions should not be a reason not to consider these people and their positions.
Adopting these persons’ views and understanding may as well answer some of the questions you raised. Not only that, it would provide us with opportunities to identify other Boko Haram members and know how to deal with them. I do not subscribe to compensation to the victims and monetary rewards to those offered amnesty. I also subscribe to the idea of using superior intellectual arguments to counter BH positions as suggested by you and Prof. Alkali.
Mukhtar Isa (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I didn't get to read your Saturday column in the Weekly Trust till today, and I must say it was really a great piece. I happened to be one of those "well-meaning people that advocate amnesty for BH out of genuine frustration with the persistent violence in northern Nigeria," but after reading your column I changed my mind. Amnesty is definitely not the way out. I’m a little concerned about the solutions you offered, though. I think it’s going to take a really long time to provide the desired solution. By then, they would have finished almost all of us. Not that I have a better solution. Keep up the good work, prof. Jazakallahu khairan.
Fatima Dikko (email@example.com)